Train Your Buttocks – 5 Lessons From My Father

I don’t know what kind of a father I’ll be, but I know what kind of a father I want to be. My father. 

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Typical African Family Illustration

A university professor, church leader and a consummate family man, Prof. JAM is what every African father is – stern and disciplined, yet a pillar of care and wisdom.

His birthday is a few weeks away, so I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learnt from him along the way.

1. Train Your Buttocks

We would gather for prayers in our living room on Friday evenings. Every Friday. 

It was a modest home, but it served us well. This sometimes extended to other days of the week, but Friday was compulsory.

After a few praise and worship songs, we’d spend hours studying the Bible, reading through scriptures, and comparing different versions.

More often than not, after hours of research, we would grumble about being tired and wanting to end the session.

Before letting us go, father would always remind us to train our buttocks. To learn how to sit down for hours and concentrate on one thing.

Years later, this is a lesson that has stuck with me. More importantly, it’s one that has helped me in my work. As a blogger, I find no problem sitting my ass down for hours to write. I have been doing it since I was young.

2. Don’t Gamble With Education

Graduated owl cartoon character

My old man is so learned he didn’t apply for jobs. Jobs were offered to him. It sounds made up, but it is true. 

After retirement, I went through his 18-page resume and understood why. He has Masters and PhD degrees in Mathematical Statistics and advanced diplomas in five courses done in four different countries. In other words, he is well learned.

To date, I’ve never related to people who cry at their graduation. In our home, this was basic sh!t. We all knew we’d go to college. It was guaranteed.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I went to my father and asked whether he’d attend my graduation. He stopped reading, looked at me, amused with his glasses slightly lowered and said, 

“Call me when you are done with your PhD.” 

3. Put God in Everything 

Like his father, my dad won’t leave us any wealth to inherit. He made this very clear. During one of our Bible studies, he told us, 

“My father left me with two things. And it’s these two things that I will leave you with after I’m gone. Education and God.”

I owe my little religious side to my dad. He puts God in everything he does. Whether it’s eating or going out or working on a project. To him, if God is not involved, it’s not worth doing.

4. Share The Little You Have

Kindness through sharing

My father is too generous to be rich. It’s one quality my brother jokes he doesn’t wish to emulate; at least not to the old man’s extent.

I’ve also heard mom complain. She will occasionally meet a friend of my dad’s who would gravely thank her for a generous contribution from my father. A contribution she had no idea about.

At times, it would be paying for their kid’s school fees and other times, he would give food or other household supplies.

My dad shares everything he has, almost always putting the needs of others before his. It’s something I feel has prevented him from attaining financial success.

He is a terrible investor. But it’s one thing he doesn’t seem to regret. He is always happy to help. He practices Ubuntu.

Service to others is the rent we pay for our space on Earth.

5. Efficiency!

My father repeatedly tells us a story about his colleague. 

The friend was going home one night after a drinking spree, when he was approached by a group of robbers. 

To rob him, they took hold of the man and threw him up. All the friend remembers is that one second, he was up, the next he was down. One second, he was fully clothed, the next he was half-naked.

Each of the robbers had been designated a task. There was someone to grab his shoes, someone else to snatch his watch and another one to pull down his pants.

The next day, the friend came to work muttering, “Efficiency! Efficiency!”

Now, he wasn’t angry that the robbers mugged him. He wasn’t even mad that they left him half-naked. He was only amused at how efficient they were at their job.

Like the robbers, if only we were efficient and committed in everything we did, maybe, just maybe, we would achieve more.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I aspire to have a family of my own someday. I don’t know what kind of a father I’ll be, but I know what kind of a father I want to be. My father.


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